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Frying Your Thanksgiving Turkey Safely

Thanksgiving is just around the corner in the US (Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October- it is a holiday for all Canadians except those in New Brunswick. What happened there?). When early settlers arrived in North America, native Americans celebrated the completion of the growing season and gave thanks for the crops that were grown. Both the Canadians and the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey, pumpkin and seasonal vegetables. One of the items on these early menus, however, was not fried turkey.

Turkey is a traditional meal but why would anyone want to fry a turkey. One reason to consider frying the turkey is time. It takes 20 minutes per pound to cook a turkey in the oven but it only takes about three minutes per pound to fry a turkey. There are some limitations, however. If you have a large turkey your options are more limited. Most of the time turkeys for frying are limited to about 15 lbs. So if you have a 23 lb. turkey planned for Thanksgiving, figure on starting the turkey a good while before the planned eating time.

There is an old saying that oil and water do not mix. That is very true with frying turkeys, especially if the water is in the form of a frozen turkey. Have you ever gone to a fast food restaurant when they were cooking a fresh batch of fries? The frozen fries go into the basket and the basket goes into the hot oil. Hot oil starts bubbling immediately. Imagine putting 15 lbs. of frozen turkey into that oil. With the fries, the oil is contained in the fryer. With a turkey fryer, the oil bubbles over the side. If your fryer was heated by propane, the oil would bubble onto the open flame and that could start a grease fire.

Even though you have defrosted and thoroughly dried the turkey, you will never be able to get 100% of the water off the bird. Always insert the turkey into the oil slowly to control the ďboilĒ that occurs when water on the turkey meets the hot oil.

Some safety tips to follow when cooking your turkey:

Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple. Fried turkey is a nice variation to the usual turkey dinner. If you donít have a fryer and donít want to spend the money to purchase one before you actually see if you like a fried turkey, check with other Scouting organizations or churches- there may be groups that will fry your turkey for you and it might cost you only the price of a gallon of oil.


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